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Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 8, 2010 3:56am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Pigpen

A selection of Pigpen videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_aX1Z_pHBQ (Hard to Handle 7-3-70)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa9kWiiuV_s (Easy Wind 7-1-70)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V752p6IMWjw (Hurts Me Too 4-17-72)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8B_YY327Pk (Next Time You See Me 4-17-72)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIwhr_S4gAc (Chinatown Shuffle 4-17-72)

Phil Lesh:
"He cultivated a biker image, but he was more the Marlon Brando Wild Ones sensitive, brooding type. But funkier, way funkier - he had a leather shirt that I saw him wear every day I knew him. Never was Pigpen more at home than with a bottle of wine and a guitar, at home or at some party, improvising epic lues rant lyrics, playing Lightnin' Hopkins songs, and doing Lord Buckley routines. For him, joining the Mother McCree's jug band with Bob and Jerry was just a small step away from what he did anyway. Garcia told me it was Pigpen's idea to turn Mother McCree's into an electric blues band. When the band turned into the Grateful Dead, Pig became our keel, our roots, our fundamental tone. Pig was the perfect front man for the Dead: intense, commanding, comforting; but I don't think he enjoyed doing that quite as much as sitting on a couch with a guitar and a jug."

Jerry Garcia:
"Pigpen was the only guy in the band who had any talent when we were starting out. He was genuinely talented. He also had no discipline, but he had reams of talent. And he had that magical thing of being able to make stuff up as he went along. He also had great stage presence. The ironic thing was that he hated it - it really meant nothing to him; it wasn't what he liked. We had to browbeat him into being a performer. His best performances were one-on-one, sitting in a room with an acoustic guitar. That's where he was really at home and at his best.
"Out in front of the crowd he could work the band, and he'd really get the audience going. He always had more nerve than I could believe. He'd get the audience on his side, and he'd pick somebody out (like a heckler) and get on them... He was the guy who really sold the band, not me or Weir. Pigpen is what made the band work."

Mickey Hart:
"Pigpen was the musician in the Grateful Dead. When I first met the Grateful Dead, it was Pigpen and the boys. It was a blues band... Pigpen was a kind man. He looked so hard, but he was a kind, soft man. That's why he had to look so tough, because he was so kind, he would get stepped on... If there was one black chick in the audience, he'd always go home with her. Somehow he'd always have her up by his organ...by the end of the evening, she'd be up sitting on his stool. He just loved black women... He was the blues: he lived it, and he believed it, and he got caught in that web and he couldn't break out. And it killed him... He was just living the blues life: singing' the blues and drinkin' whiskey. That's what all blues guys did."

Tom Constanten:
"Pigpen's father was a blues DJ who went by the name 'Cool Breeze'. Pigpen had an encyclopedic knowledge of all the blues artists, and Pigpen was a remarkable blues singer. The world never got to see the full measure of Pigpen. He could do so many things - he was so deep, so broad. I used to room with him on the road and I shared a house with him in Novato. I mean you'd look at him and see this Hell's Angel sort of character who sings this narrow band of music, and he was really into so many more things. Pigpen had a different inner and outer image. While his outer image was kind of like Pirate Pete who would shoot his gun at your feet to make you dance, yet he was also the guy who brought a portable chess game along on the road because he liked to play."

Ned Lagin:
"I was very surprised at who Pigpen actually turned out to be, given what I had seen of him... I thought Pigpen would probably be on the opposite side of the planet from me, blues tough, but he turned out to be a very sweet person. To him, I was one of those whiz-kid rocket scientist genius kids that he always wanted to meet, but was on a different school bus going to a different place... But we could sit together and play piano together and hang out together. I think there was a great sensitivity in Pigpen that was the opposite of his down & dirty Lovelight personality."

Pigpen:
"Can't think what to write, but there's an ant hobbling around on this table. Absquatulate with the funds, will ya? Had any prune-tang lately? There's a broken helicopter outside the door, looking bum-tripped after having fallen down on Happy Land St. and belonging to the people who work in the hangar next door. Poot, still at a loss. I like fun and making people happy. Sue just loves my blue bow."

Bob Seidemann:
"It was obvious to everybody Pigpen was dying. I photographed him a few days before he died and he was so weak he had to be helped from the front door of his place to the car. I wanted to do one more picture of Pig with the Dead, so I picked him up and we drove out to Bolinas where they were rehearsing. I said, 'Look, I've got Pig here. Let's go outside and do a picture.' And everybody just said, 'Uh, no, Bob. Thumbs down.' So I put Pig back in the car and on the way back he said, 'Seidemann, will you take my picture?'... It was a sad moment when those cats wouldn't do it, and I had to drag Pig back to his apartment."

Here's one of Pigpen's last songs, called No Tomorrow. (Sorry about the poor quality.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2R03IDGo3E

And here's Robert Petersen's poem for Pigpen, written in 1973:

& pigpen died

my eyes tequila-tortured
4 days mourning
lost another fragment
of my own self
knowing
the same brutal
night-sweats & hungers
he knew
the same cold fist
that knocked him down
now clutching furiously
at my gut

shut my eyes
& see him standing
spread-legged
on the stage of the world
the boys prodding him
egging him on
he telling all he ever knew
or cared to know

mike hand cocked like
a boxer's
head throwed back
stale whiskey blues
many-peopled destinations
neon rainy streets
& wilderness of airports
thousands maybe millions
loved him
were fired instantly
into forty-five minutes of
midnight hour
but when he died
he was thin, sick, scared
and alone

like i said to laird
i just hope he didn't hurt
too much

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 8, 2010 8:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Thx, Lia, per usual...this reinforces my take on why Operator is my fav tune (another in which studio is the ONE, of course...). It conveys the other "non stage persona, sensitive" PP that is alluded to in the interviews above. Another indicator is the line in one of the 70s shows in which Bob yells out "anybody wanna hear a pigpen" to which Jerry or Phil say "he doesn't want to!" during one of the semi-acoustic sets...showing his reluctance as indicated above. I've often said the PP raps are my least fav of the DEAD tunes, and I generally skip them except when the jamming is at the fore (there, does that reinforcement my nonmisogynist tendencies?).

Ironically, was listening to the DOORs boxed set from Felt Forum, 1/17-18/70 yesterday and struck by how in the lengthy songs, there is a real similarity between the Jim raps and the PP raps, except the former is generally about death and profanity, and law and order, and the latter is about sex...but, surprisingly similar overall effect achieved by both performers, though clearly neither of them woud appreciate the comparison!

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Mar 8, 2010 8:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

The show where Pigpen didn't want to come out was the acoustic set at Alfred College 5-1-70.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1970-05-01.sbd.miller.95683.sbeok.flac16

I agree about the raps. I don't think they aged real well. I am sure if you were there it might have been fun but they don't do much for me as someone who is just listening to the music.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 8, 2010 9:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Ah--yep; that's good one! Thought it was May, but you know me...the less "work" at this, the better...besides, when I actually do any work here, I usu find out I was wrong, so why go to the bother?

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Poster: Jobygoob Date: Mar 8, 2010 6:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

R.I.P.

I'll be listening to all Pig all day today, thanks for the reminder LiA.

Maybe an obvious choice, but this is what I'll be starting with:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-06-14.sbd.skinner.5182.sbeok.shnf

This post was modified by Jobygoob on 2010-03-08 14:05:04

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Poster: portmcgroin Date: Mar 8, 2010 10:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I wonder about the picture story it seems so cold that the whole band just blew him off did they not even go say whats up or was it cause they knew he was killing himself with booze and bitter about it? Who is Bob Siederman? It leaves a bad taste in my mouth if its true because from what i've read everyone had to know he was real sick.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 8, 2010 12:58pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Mountain Girl:
"Pigpen was a stoned, crazy guy from the beginning. He'd get drunk and talk blues. You couldn't help but love Pigpen. He was lovable and everybody liked him. He sang like an old blues singer... It was sure sad to lose him. We all thought he was getting better. Pigpen wouldn't tell anyone how sick he was. The only person that knew something was seriously wrong was the photographer, Bob Seidemann. He was the band's photographer. Pigpen invited him over and they went out for a drive, and Pigpen says 'Wait, stop, get out and take my picture' and he did, and it was the last picture ever taken of Pigpen. He died a couple days later."

Notice that she leaves out the most important part of the story....understandably.
Seidemann's story is a bit vague & I wish he'd been more detailed, but I thought it said something important about the band's relationships.
McNally's bio also tells the story. 'Early in March they were rehearsing at the Stinson Beach Community Center when an old friend, photographer Bob Seidemann, stopped by with Pigpen. He had asked Bob for a ride so that he could have his picture taken with the band. In Seidemann's view, 'They coldly put him down, turned him away. They pecked him.' As far as the others knew, they all expected him to recover... They didn't want to be distracted, and Pig went on home."

Pigpen was quite lonely in those days, living by himself, calling people over to play chess. Eileen Law says, "When they came back from Europe, the rest of the band would go on tours, and Pig stayed home. Pig would call the office, and he was having a really hard time with the band on the road and him being out of that. He would call and just want to talk. We all felt really bad for him because here was this person I once thought was a Hell's Angel, and now he was this little thin person. He had this thin, thin face, but he'd still have his little hat on."

No doubt Pigpen put up a brave front, so maybe people did think he was getting better. You can see in those Europe '72 vids how much more subdued he is. On that tour, he rode around on the back bench of the crew's tourbus. Rock Scully says, "He got knocked off that bench five or six times. He rolled off that bench and a couple of times he really hurt himself. I could see it - he really hurt his kidneys and bruised himself. I'd have to help him off the bus."

He actually stopped drinking in '71, but it was already too late. Garcia said, "When he went to the hospital in '71 and we all gave him blood, they were saying, 'That's it. He's not going to make it.' So in effect we went through it - went through the pain. Then he came out of it for a while - and actually I thought he was doing pretty good. When he died he just snuck away."

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2010-03-08 20:58:41

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 8, 2010 1:17pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

As usual, it shows that the myths we build up about various folks that we have a great deal invested in don't necessarily play out the way we imagined...this is no knock on any of the band members at the time, but having gone thru the death of five significant family members in five yrs, I can tell you that such a thing could happen, and you'd regret it the rest of your life, without it having seemed significant at all at the time...in a way, it just makes all of them that much more just like the rest of us.

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Poster: portmcgroin Date: Mar 8, 2010 3:34pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Thanks for expanding on the thread it helps a little more and it must have happened if its in the McNally book. I guess it shows that its important to make time for people cause you never know. Strange thing happened when I was writing this I had the bonus disc from the new road trips(11/14/71) in and just heard the part elbow was talking about with Bob explaining why Pig isnt there. His date shows 72 not 71.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Mar 8, 2010 1:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Your initial post and then this one reminded me of a thread i started a few years ago about a comment Bob makes at a concert. Perhaps it also puts this comment into a new light. Oddly enough that post was also inspired by one of your threads. I feel like i am moving in circles.

http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=165725

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Poster: Jobygoob Date: Mar 9, 2010 8:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Man this post, more than the first one, was really moving, and actually brought a tear to my eye. Such a sad ending, so much lost.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Mar 8, 2010 8:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

There is a torrent at LL referred to as the Pigpen Apartment Demos that features 16 tracks of Pig playing acoustic guitar and harmonica with a few other folks in the room. Most of the cuts are from 1966 although 3 are from 1973 and are supposed to be his last recordings. They are dated 3-9-73 which is hard to believe so whether they are truly his last recordings and when they were actually recorded is impossible to know. Regardless those tracks are a bit bittersweet to listen to. The final track is from 1964 with Jorma (Sweet Georgia Brown>Betty and Dupree). Probably the closest thing out there if you want to get a feel for what Phil and the others are talking about. I think it also gives you more of an appreciation for what Jerry talks about regarding Pig being a musician.

I really enjoy listening to it when I am not in the mood for some acoustic blues. Thanks to Arbuthnot for bringing this one to my attention a few months back. It is what I am listening to this morning.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Mar 10, 2010 6:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

When I first saw Pig in '67, he was every bit the greasy, porky, gruffy persona that is pictured on the first l.p. He was quite the character, and, while Jerry obviously claimed the most attention for his chops, Pig claimed almost as much for his showmanship, his singing (yes!), and his demeanor.

His organ playing was up front in the mix and the dynamic. Musically, he was almost as noticeable as Garcia as well. I recall them doing Cold Rain and Snow in which Pig duets with Jerry in the middle of the tune--you know the riff. And Schoolgirl--well, that was downright truckin'! Viola Lee Blues? Who do you think chased Jerry? Phil AND Pig.

As the band grew musically, it left Pig somewhat in the dust. He still added his flourishes here and there, but it was his showmanship that served the band. While there are those who say that they fast forward through his raps, I say that I fast forward through almost every post 1973 jam--they, too, just wander on with nothing new to say. Yeah, his raps could get predictable, and I can see the label "tiresome" being planted on them, but this was a visual experience--like SEEING
a southern preacher speak in tongues. Pig owned the audience with his gusto, his presence, and, yes, his shtick.

But rumbling under, around, and through the raps was some of the best jamming the band ever did. Remember--the Lovelight "formula" was rap/jam/rap. And don't forget Caution--mostly jam--as was Alligator. And those Smokestack Lightnings--really some of the finest music the band played. Hard to Handle!

But as the sixties gave way to the seventies, it became more and more obvious that Pig was getting ill. By 1971, he was thin and gaunt. His presence diminished as his liver began to fail. By the April Fillmore East shows, he looked like hell. At Gaelic Park in August, he was really pushing it to stand up through HtoH and Lovelight. Listen to Empty Pages--he's singing his own blues now. At the Felt Forum shows, things were worse. Listen to the moaning in the second night's Smokestack Lightning: "I've been gone too long," he laments--knowing that he wasn't the Pig he used to be (great version though--as they all were). At the Academy shows in March, he rarely left his keyboard seat to sing. Hard to Handle had been dropped, and there weren't any nightly raves. He looked worse than the fall.

But he clearly rallied for the Europe tour. It was as if he knew it were his last and that he had to give what he had left--which he did. Here, the Good Lovin's open up to let him rap his greasy raps, and The Stranger shows the deep sadness within. I think the greatest performance he ever did occurred on April 14: Good Lovin'--Caution--Who Do You Love--Caution--Good Lovin.' They resurrected Caution for this tour and played a few long versions of it with great Pig raps. But this one's the keeper. As I've written before--it is the apex of the Grateful Dead's music--a true high point. Pig's rap is different, and the tone is mournfully raunchy. The power that he calls up from his muse is intense as his sexually charged rap digs deeper and deeper into the center of his unquenchable desire. But it's not just this rap: it's the way that all of the musician's are there with him. The six of them become one voice as the band members create a series of waves for him to surf on. Listen to Jerry--beyond amazing--and listen to Keith--who astounds me here. Phil ain't no lightweight either, and Bobby's unique twangs fill in the gaps. All of this propelled by Billy's massively subtle drumming.

Don't take my word for it: it's on the reissue of Europe '72 sans overdubs.

I'll end with this: while the band was clearly moving away from its sixties roots, and Pig was becoming the odd man out--his contributions are as important and strong as anyone's. He was the boiler room on the train, the capper to a long night of ethereal jamming. Listen to the way that the DS--SS--11--Lovelight suites move from in your head to on your feet. Amazing stuff.

But listen to that Copenhagen jam--it's the stuff of miracles--a sonic epiphany in which it ALL comes together. This is the best of the Dead--better--if only for 40 minutes--than 68 or 69.

And it's testament to the testifier, the primal ooze.

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Poster: mickmac Date: Mar 10, 2010 7:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

So very well put. Amen to that, GoP.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Mar 10, 2010 7:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

"Yeah, his raps could get predictable, and I can see the label "tiresome" being planted on them, but this was a visual experience--like SEEING
a southern preacher speak in tongues. Pig owned the audience with his gusto, his presence, and, yes, his shtick. "

not being a Pig fan - i CAN agree that that was the case. If he was relying on his VERY pedestrian vocals, no one would be talking about him.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 10, 2010 7:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Just like me: a pedestrian PM...about to get run over by a truck now that I am getting older and slower.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Mar 10, 2010 7:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

do not sell yourself short Mr. PM - your "Prime Ministerialocity" is second to none. :)

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Mar 10, 2010 7:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

"Ministerialocity" - going nowhere fast.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Mar 10, 2010 7:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

waddya mean???? seemed to be a perfect word choice, if you ask me! I found it in Webster's "Words That Aren't Words But Should Have Been Words" 2nd edition.

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Mar 10, 2010 8:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I didn't say it wasn't a perfect word choice, you hairy fool - I was just defining it for the benefit of those who may not be quite so fancy with words as what you and me is.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Mar 10, 2010 8:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

LMAO!!!!! (too funny)

sorry - i thought you were implying the thread was going downhill due to my inane posting (as usually happens when i post).





still laughing as a type this :)




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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 10, 2010 8:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

The more I look at the word, the more I like it...at first, I couldn't pronounce it, but after a bit of practice, I am starting to really think you have some there.

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Mar 8, 2010 11:20am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

thanks for the bus ride, Pigpen

196607xx_0072.jpg
anim_peaceleaf01.gif
196704xx_0172.jpg

R. I. P.

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Apr 22, 2011 8:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Another good essay by LiA about Pigpen was posted here,on April 22, 2011. It's also on the Grateful Dead Guide.

Thank you Light into Ashes.

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Poster: whirlwind dreamer 65-95 Date: Mar 8, 2010 6:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

here's 1 more of rons vid's>>>>6-21-71>>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9dts31XR8o

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Poster: bluestones Date: Jun 28, 2010 4:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I've always wondered what Pig Pen would have sounded like if he was on Blues For Allah. Or even "In The Dark"? I just can't imagine him playing on those later Dead albums.

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Poster: RBNW....new and improved! Date: Mar 8, 2010 4:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/5d/Pig-pen_peanuts.PNG/220px-Pig-pen_peanuts.PNG

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Poster: bigwind Date: Mar 8, 2010 4:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Thanks for giving some insights on Pigpen. The first time I saw him perform at the Yale Bowl in 71. He stepped out to the center of the stage holding the mike with one hand harmonica in the other,cowboy boots, cowboy hat tipped low over his face, a trippy cowboy, country, bluesy,presence on the stage.He brought the show to another level.